Christmas has officially begun in Dartford following the Big Christmas Switch On at the weekend.

After poring through hundreds of incredible colouring competition entries from schools across Dartford, Oliver Carty, 8, was selected as this year’s lucky winner, and got to help light up the town for Christmas. Oliver joined The Worshipful the Mayor of Dartford Rosanna Currans, Father Christmas, and stars of Orchard West’s pantomime ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in Brewery Square on Saturday.

Festivities began at 11am, with Cohesion Plus’s roaming entertainment in the High Street, Orchards Shopping Centre and Priory Shopping Centre. From Christmas Mickey and Minnie Mouse to the interactive Show Globe, there was plenty of fun for everyone to enjoy.

Starting off the afternoon of performances at Brewery Square was Orchard West’s Ukulele group and signing choir. With Channel 5’s Milkshake! presenter, David Ribi, guiding the crowd through each set and even starring in the Christmas Sing-A-Long Show.   There were tributes to George Ezra and Freddie Mercury, as well as an appearance from Not the Rolling Stones.

Helping with the big switch-on were some of Orchard West’s sparkling pantomime stars – soap star, actress and singer Shona McGarty, Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist John Archer, fellow soap star Harry Reid, and talented performers Emma Jay Thomas and Tom Senior.

Leader of the Council Jeremy Kite MBE said: “What a brilliant way to start Christmas! A big thank you to everyone who came and got involved with the Big Christmas Switch On, as well as to the organisers that brought it together. And don’t forget the festivities aren’t ending here, we have our favourite Santa’s House, Carol Concert and Santa on Tour still to come. So save the dates and we hope to see you there.”

We would like to thank the following organisations who have generously supported this year’s Big Christmas Switch On: Dartford Borough Council – Orchards Shopping Centre – The Priory Shopping Centre – Orchard West – Sainsbury’s – Aldi – Fairfield – Dartford Markets – Dartford Messenger – Cohesion Plus.

The Big Christmas Switch On kicks off Dartford Borough Council’s festive calendar. Details about Santa’s House (25th & 26th November and 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th December), Santa’s Tour (3rd, 10th, 17th, 20th, 21st December) and other great events are available via www.dartford.gov.uk/events.

Photos – Andy Barnes Photography/Dartford Borough Council

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